“For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength’” (Isa. 30:15, NKJV).
Have you experienced what I have? You’re having an amazing moment in worship. You are experiencing such a connection with God as you lift your heart up to Him. It’s glorious! Then…
The next moment, you find your brain contemplating your lunch plans. Your mind just derailed from the third heaven to muse about a slice of pizza.
I know, it can be exasperating, can’t it??
Like me, you have two options here:
- Kick yourself. Get irritated with your inability to stay focused in on such an important moment. Shake your head and give room to all the negative thoughts flooding in about what an unworthy Christian you are. Wonder how God puts up with you.
- Simply, return. Refocus your mind on Him. Lift your heart back up to gazing at Him. Receive the waterfall of His grace washing over you. Redirect your mind’s eye to His beauty… and continue worshipping freely.
God has generously given us the Biblical provision of “returning” (see today’s verse, above). We need to return frequently because life often distracts us from our focus on Him. All day long, constant stimuli battle for our attention. Again and again, it seems that run-of-the-mill events pull our minds away from intimacy with Him.
For someone who longs to learn to cultivate an awareness of His closeness, this can be disheartening. You know what? It’s okay! Just keep returning.
Returning will become a life-long habit for us, as we mature. The Psalmist knew this well. He used his self-talk to encourage himself in this direction: “Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you” (Ps. 116:7, NKJV). In other words, he was telling himself, “Your loving God has always waited for you with open arms! Jump back into His eager embrace!”
For some reason, this brings a blue fish named Dory to mind. She was onto something in Finding Nemo. Just substitute the word “returning” in her famous little jingle: “Just keep returning, just keep returning!”
The more you return, the more you learn to abide in Him. Again and again, return. Again and again, refocus. Slowly but surely, you will learn to spend greater and greater increments of your day aware of His closeness. Mind you, I said “slowly.” There is a lifetime of learning ahead for each of us in this area. The important thing is to keep at it.
“‘Return to me, and I will return to you,’ says the Lord All-Powerful” (Mal. 3:7, NCV).
Extra tip: Speaking of growing in the disciple of focusing, I have something exciting to share with you!
I have recently discovered how much I absolutely love listening to audio Bibles. I tried one quite a few years back, and didn’t feel like it worked for me. Turns out, the problem was the particular narrator that did the recording. On a nudge from Holy Spirit, I tried again last month. This time, I’ve been profoundly struck by how helpful this exercise is to me. So much so, that I’ve been listening to the Bible every day since I started. I find that, listening to someone else read the Scriptures to me helps me focus in a unique way. It pulls my attention in, in a more immediate manner than when I read them myself.
I’d encourage you to try it out too! There are some great audio Bibles on Bible Gateway’s webpage, at this link: https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/audio/ . Or look for their audio Bible app in the app store 😊.
I figure — after all, Paul admonished the recipients of his epistles to make sure they were read orally to the churches! There’s something to this…
Do you have any tips to share, that have helped you train your attention span for spiritual growth?